Carbon-izer.com - Gessner Road

GESSNER ROAD

As part of the ongoing project to link the Katy Freeway page and the Westheimer Road page, this page was created. The Gessner page (not be confused with South Gessner starts at Buffalo Bayou (where Gessner Road starts) and goes up to the Northwest Freeway. See this page for South Gessner and its connection with Westheimer Road. Version 2.0 of this page fixes a few minor errors and integrates Northwest Freeway, adding Whataburger, a former Sizzler, Taco Bell, McDonald's (and somehow Long Point/Westview got conflated as one), a former KFC, and a former Long John Silver's for a total of 28 entries.


The Tealstone / 150 Gessner Road
This 15-story condo is even before the first stoplight of Gessner. Surprisingly, the building predates many of the larger buildings in the area, being built in 1983.

MEMORIAL DRIVE


One Memorial City Plaza / 800 Gessner Road
One of two twin twelve-story office buildings, built in 1981.

BARRYKNOLL LANE

Just south of this stoplight, Gessner gains/loses a third through lane (additional lanes are around the freeway area). The lane emerges/disappears toward the inside of the road.
400 Memorial City Way
Formerly numbered at 875 Gessner Road, this was the Sears Auto Center adjacent to the Sears at Memorial City Mall and closed in fall 2018 with the store. It may have been demolished in 2020 with the main Sears store, I'm not sure.

KINGSRIDE LANE

One of three signaled entrances to Memorial City Mall.
Wells Fargo / 901 Gessner Road
This Wells Fargo bank has been here since 1997. To the immediate west of it is an empty lot, former home to Papa Joe's BBQ and torn down in early 2014. It was a former Jack in the Box, but changed hands around the early to mid 2000s.

MEMORIAL CITY MALL 1 / HERMANN MEMORIAL HOSPITAL 1

Not only one of three stoplights to connect to the mall, but two to connect to the hospital as well.

Memorial City Mall / 303 Memorial City Way
Originally at 900 Gessner (with some stores referring to their addresses as such), Memorial City Mall used to be, if very briefly, "my mall". I got my hair cut there at least once. I bought household cleaning supplies at the Target store. I saw Hardcore Henry in the mall's movie theater on Friday night, realizing how badly it was doing in domestic theaters when it was one of the more popular movie theaters in Houston on a Friday night, and the theater was barely full.

For the most part, Mall Hall of Fame provides the most complete & accurate history of the mall, though there are of course inaccuracies.

  • The 1966 opening of the mall proper is correct, "Phase One", which included Weingarten and Sears, along with American Savings Bank, was built in 1964. The Sears store in particular was definitely opened, with a large spread in the papers about it, including some of the features the new store had to offer.
  • While "Memorial Shopping City" appears in some pre-mall articles, other articles refer it as "Memorial City Shopping Center".
  • The placement of Mars Music is probably wrong—an April 2000 article about Memorial City Mall mentions Mars Music being there at the time prior to Montgomery Ward's death.
  • The Weingarten mentioned, from what I've read, was in or near the current ice rink area. However, it closed sometime in the 1970s, before the chain was dismantled.
  • Another inaccuracy is the fate of the second Lord & Taylor. The all-new 140,000 square foot store opened in March 2002, featuring a prototype design by the company. "Instead of blouses, dresses, and accessories being separate, they are brought together to create a particular look", a 2003 Houston Chronicle article noted. In July 2003, May Department Stores announced that Lord & Taylor would pull out of Houston as part of scaling back the department store chain. This time, the Galleria store would be affected, as well as Willowbrook Mall (where a store was built in 1998) and, of course, Memorial City Mall. Despite the bad news, the mall was still on the upward trend, and May wanted to negotiate with new tenants. Besides, Lord & Taylor owned the building it was in. By the time JCPenney opened in February 2006 (likely with the mall buying back the building and leasing it), JCPenney had long been gone from Town & Country Mall, which was now completely demolished.

Reading about Memorial City Mall is fascinating, though.

Early stores in the mall proper included Craig's and Piccadilly Cafeteria. The mall's cinema opened in 1966 by Stanley Warner Theatres with the first feature being Nevada Smith. After reaching four anchors in the late 1970s (Foley's in a new eastern wing and Lord & Taylor added to the western entrance near the former Weingarten), the mall experienced its first anchor change when Lord & Taylor closed all but one of its Houston stores (The Galleria) in early 1989. Mervyn's would open later that year, replacing the Memorial City Mall store as well as the Greenspoint Mall Lord & Taylor.

When the mall's renovation started to ramp up in the late 1990s, even the announcement of Montgomery Ward's closure didn't faze Memorial City Mall, with Bill Peel at MetroNational noting that it freed it up a prime corner of property. Within a year, Target purchased the site and had plans to build a Target Greatland (145k square feet), which opened in late 2003 (but branded as a regular Target).

To the north of the eastern wing, Foley's opened a 300,000 square foot store in November 2001 (abandoning their old store), and to the south, Lord & Taylor opened an all-new store in March 2002, featuring a 140,000 square foot store. "Instead of blouses, dresses, and accessories being separate, they are brought together to create a particular look", a 2003 Houston Chronicle article noted.

The former Foley's was demolished for additional stores and a new anchor space.

In July 2003, May Department Stores announced that Lord & Taylor would pull out of Houston as part of scaling back the department store chain. This time, the Galleria store would be affected, as well as Willowbrook Mall (where a store was built in 1998) and, of course, Memorial City Mall. Despite the bad news, the mall was still on the upward trend, and May wanted to negotiate with new tenants. Besides, Lord & Taylor owned the building it was in.

October 2003 brought the opening of Dillard's in the new wing, which replaced the Town & Country Mall store (closed earlier that month), along with the ice rink around the same time, and by December 2003, Memorial City Mall was functionally complete, with six department stores (Sears, Mervyn's, Lord & Taylor, Dillard's, Foley's, and Target) with a completely rebuilt interior.

By January 2004, the Houston Chronicle was referring to Memorial City Mall as "The Galleria's classy little sister", with six department stores and an ice rink. May wasn't in a big hurry to liquidate Lord & Taylor, and ultimately the store closed in early 2005, with the store still being open as late as March 2005. A few months later Memorial City Mall would get more bad news as far as department stores went, with Mervyn's also pulling out of Houston.

Mervyn's closed in January 2006, but the mall was about to get its fifth anchor back when JCPenney opened in February 2006 in the former Lord & Taylor spot. Afterwards, a movie theater was built in a corridor linking the Sears wing back to the food court, with the theater being on the second level. You can see a detailed floorplan of the entire mall (before the cinema, however) here. I don't believe the Borders ever opened, it was an Old Navy instead.

Mervyn's was demolished for a few additional restaurants and a skybridge connecting the hospital/hotel across the street to the mall, but in an interesting, confusing, and disappointing twist, the skybridge was partially demolished. I remember in 2016 seeing the closed-off escalators in the ice rink leading to the skybridge. within a few years, in its place was a covered walkway that led out to the skybridge near the end of the restaurants. The idea of the mall and the hospital/hotel being one super-structure over one roof had come to an end.

Sears would close in fall 2018 as part of the ongoing struggles of the company, and in 2020, the store (the genesis of the mall, really) was demolished, with rumors of additional outdoor stores and services. (Not another anchor, pity!). Additionally, an Olive Garden in the parking lot (demolished 2009) had this address (900 Gessner, that is) and was later replaced with Iberia Bank (1000 Memorial City Mall).


MEMORIAL CITY MALL 2 / HERMANN MEMORIAL HOSPITAL 2

Not only one of three stoplights to connect to the mall, but two to connect to the hospital as well.
Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center / 921 Gessner Road
I've also seen 929 for the "main" address for this hospital, but make no mistake—this place is huge, with its flagship "crown" tower completed in 2009 (this is probably the actual 929 address). It actually holds offices within the crown. Before the main headquarters of Memorial Hermann were moved here, it was built back in 1971 as Memorial City General Hospital with a merger in the late 1980s causing it to assume its current name.

As the hospital did expand, it overtook other buildings and lots. One of these, for instance, was the home of Globe Shopping City (a division of Walgreens), which opened a large store (about 80,000 square feet) across from the Memorial City Mall at Katy Freeway in 1968. This store, which contained all the typical discount store departments, also included a "Food Department", though it isn't entirely clear if it was essentially a separate store or not (as these departments were almost entirely operated by a local third party). In 1978, Walgreens closed the money-losing chain, with FedMart purchasing the properties and reopening them in 1979, many of them replacing an older, smaller FedMart store.

This didn't last for very long. In 1981, FedMart closed the Houston stores before the chain went out of business a few years later. By 1984, Mervyn's department store was operating at the site, having completed a full remodel inside and out. But like with FedMart, Mervyn's did not last long at the site, as an opportunity opened in 1989 that allowed Mervyn's to actually be at Memorial City Mall in Lord & Taylor's old space, joining fellow department stores Foley's, Sears, and Montgomery Ward.

This left 975 Gessner vacant once more, and by 1990, Oshman's SuperSports USA opened, a "super-store" operated by the Oshman's sporting goods chain. In mid-2004, Oshman's left for a new store on the Katy Freeway, going under the name of their new owner, Sports Authority. The widening of Katy Freeway took nothing from the lot, but a new owner, Memorial Hermann, would buy the space, building a large hospital headquarters in the spot. As a result, by May 2005, the nearly 40-year-old building was gone and new construction began.

Another lot eaten by the hospital was a Shell (Memorial City Shell) at 999 Gessner, located at the direct southwest corner of I-10 and Gessner. It was a Shell of the "three hexagon canopy" variety (see the Katy page for another example) and was demolished in late 2005. It probably would've survived the widening of the Katy Freeway but was purchased by the hospital.

KATY FREEWAY

Yes, and Gessner does connect to Katy Freeway, which was linked from here. The main Katy page is right here, check it out!

CVS/pharmacy / 1002 Gessner Road
The construction of the Katy Freeway dramatically changed the north side of the road, and a CVS was built here in 2009. Previously, after the stoplight at Katy Freeway, there was a railroad crossing, then Old Katy Road, then a shopping center to the west and an Exxon station to the east. Directly across from the "I-10 & Gessner Exxon" was a Luther's Bar-B-Q at 1001 Gessner, demolished around 2005 for Katy Freeway expansion.


MATHEWSON LANE


This road extended and built a stoplight to Gessner as part of the redevelopment of the long-gone shopping center on the west side of the road.

Mia's Table / 1035 Gessner Road
See below for the story here.

Torchy's Tacos / 1035-A Gessner Road
Both of these restaurants opened up in front of where a supermarket was at 1049 Gessner, but had been gone for years. Originally it opened as a Kroger (likely sometime in the early 1980s) and closed around 1996. In March 1997, it reopened as a second Memorial Market supermarket (the smaller first one was on Katy Freeway in a former Continental Finer Foods) after renovations, with a focus on international items. Within about 5 or 6 years, Memorial Market transitioned into more of a strictly Korean supermarket. By 2006, it had become Komart Marketplace, which also has a Dallas location. I'm currently unable to ascertain whether Memorial Market was sold or rebranded, or not, but unfortunately, in 2010, the store closed down for good and was demolished for redevelopment. As of early 2016, the sign for Komart still remained up, but that went away as construction continued to change the area. Both Torchy's and Mia's were underway in 2019 and opened in 2020.

Despite the expansion of Mathewson Lane to Gessner, the actual footprint of the store remains undeveloped.

Whataburger / 1040 Gessner Road
This Whataburger restuarant was built in '95.

Charter Auto Leasing & Rental, Inc. / 1205 Gessner Road
This building opened in 1974 as a Sizzler, and like most of the other Sizzler restaurants in the area, closed after 1984. This never saw use as a restaurant again. In 1990 it was an insurance office (Fairway Acceptance). It should be noted that in the 1970s, the parking lot was much larger.

Taco Bell / 1223 Gessner Road
This was originally built and opened as Bojangles' in April 1985 (the chain left Houston within a year). By 1993, it was operating as Arby's, but in 1996 the building was torn down and replaced with a Taco Bell.

Wendy's / 1225 Gessner Road
The "Featuring Chili & Frosty" sign in teal gives away how old this restaurant really is...it was originally built in 1972! It has seen updates since, in 2008, it ditched the solarium seating area.

English Oaks Apartments / 1320 Gessner Road
Surprisingly, by going back to before the apartments were built, the address, 1320 Gessner, was John Robert Powers School, a finishing school franchise for would-be models. Further research shows that the franchised schools (of which 1320 Gessner was almost certainly part of) used misleading advertising to attract customers. Based on a wedding announcement just two years prior that mentioned the address, the building was almost certainly a converted residence. By Feburary 1970, it was open as the first phase of English Oaks Apartments (120 units, the other 60 were completed later that year).

Despite some updates over the years, the apartments have declined (by the mid-1990s it was advertising Section 8 was welcome), but, extraordinarily, they have kept their name for over 50 years.


WESTVIEW DRIVE


McDonald's / 1303 Gessner Road
A McDonald's was here since the 1970s. Sometime in 2006-2007 it was torn down and replaced with a restaurant that faced Westview Road (and has since renovated to remove the mansard roof).


LONG POINT ROAD


AutoZone / 1818 Gessner Road
This building was originally an Eagle Discount Supermarket opened in 1970 with two others (3102 Kirby and 6425 San Felipe), debuting in Houston in January 1970, and featured a pharmacy (the Kirby store did not). The stores were operated by Lucky Stores out of California (why they chose to brand them as Eagle, a Midwestern division, instead of their flagship Lucky brand, isn't known), and they even owned the larger Gemco membership stores.

In 1985, Lucky pulled the plug on their two-dozen store operation in the Houston area (Gemco had closed by this time) and the store closed. By late 1987, it had become Sak-N-Sav Super Foods (this also had other locations in the Houston area, though none of them exist today, the last one being off of Ella and closing in the late 2000s). Sometime around 1991, Sak-N-Sav (now Sak-N-Sav Warehouse Foods) closed and Price Buster Foods (owned by Rice Food Markets) opened store #113 in May 1992.

In the mid to late 1990s, Price Buster folded and by 1999 it was a location of A-1 Flea Market (which had two other locations, 13945 Murphy Road and 717 Maxey Road). In 2003, it reopened as 99 Cent Only Stores but closed around 2009. In November 2011, it reopened as ALCO (a picture of this building can be seen at this Chronicle article) but it closed in 2014 when the chain liquidated. Finally, in late summer (or early fall) 2016, AutoZone moved into the store, replacing its smaller store in the parking lot.

2060 Gessner Road
Former Long John Silver's. The captain left the port in 2019.


NEUENS ROAD


Pizza Hut / 2018 Gessner Road
A Pizza Hut was down the street at 1826 Gessner (demolished in 2009 for an AutoZone, before the AutoZone relocated to the much bigger former ALCO behind it a few years later), though it wasn't a Pizza Hut even in the mid-1990s. 2018 Gessner is largely a mystery. It was built in 1968 as a fast food restaurant per HCAD, and opened as BoSa Donuts in 1986. As early as 1991, Pizza Hut had relocated here.


TIGER TRAIL


Weasel Wash / 2048 Gessner Road
Self-serve car wash with a custom sign. I can't find much on it, though...


HAMMERLY BOULEVARD


Kroger / 2300 Gessner Road
Originally, Safeway operated one of its earliest Houston stores in this shopping center, but in 1988 relocated to a new store at 2300 Gessner. This store was somewhat oddly arranged (an arrangement persisting to this day) where the perishable departments are in the center of the store, and the dry grocery sections are located in two different sections at right angles to each other. (This bizarre layout was one of the reasons why, when living in Spring Branch at the time, I had preferred the "Villages" store off of Katy Freeway).

It didn't last too long under Safeway and by 1989 had been rebranded as AppleTree, and was sold off to Kroger in early 1994.

New Wok Chinese Cafe / 2330 Gessner Road
Kentucky Fried Chicken has been here since 1982 (the design is very KFC-ish) and a KFC through at least the end of 1992. Other than that, there's not much on this building. Did KFC add the solarium area?


EMNORA LANE


Hillendahl Neighborhood Library / 2436 Gessner Road
This small City of Houston library opened in October 1971. On the other side of the power line right of way, is a demolished site (Pavillion at Gessner, 2500 Gessner) that was a wedding and event venue. I'm not sure when it was closed but it was torn down in 2019.


WESTRAY STREET

A stoplight wasn't here until around 2004 or 2005.

LA Fitness / 2740 Gessner Road
Wal-Mart built a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market (#3451) here and opened in August 2001, yet it never really got a foothold in the Houston market as far as Neighborhood Market stores were concerned. It did get renovated and rebranded in 2009 or 2010 as "Neighborhood Market by Walmart" (luckily within a few years, they went with a new "Walmart Neighborhood Market" logo chainwide instead of that clumsy mess), yet this store never got this newer signage, so it was "Neighborhood Market by Walmart" until the store closed in January 2016 with over 250 others. It was later renovated and reopened as an LA Fitness in 2019.


KEMPWOOD DRIVE

Across the street from the LA Fitness is an H-E-B, which was formerly an Albertsons. This has a Kempwood Drive address, but may be covered on this page in the future. Also, just north of here, Gessner loses/gains the third lane from the inside of the road, just as it did south of Memorial City Mall. It is four lanes to the north of here.

Walgreens / 2808 Gessner Road
This Walgreens does not appear to have replaced anything. It was built in the late 1990s/early 2000s era.


KEMP FOREST DRIVE

To the northast corner of this stoplight was Pine Crest Country Club at 3080 Gessner. It closed in early 2017, and is currently being redeveloped into new subdivisions. The clubhouse has since been torn down.

The Lodge at Spring Shadows / 10221 Centrepark Drive
This apartment complex was built in 2001, and a second phase was finished off in 2009.


CLAY ROAD

To the east of Gessner is the sprawling H-E-B facility, including a large distribution center and several plants. The facility was built by Safeway originally and inherited by AppleTree, with AppleTree selling it to H-E-B in the early 1990s.

Valero / 4310 Gessner Road
This Valero with a Circle K convenience store is at the northeast corner of the stoplight. It was owned by National Convenience Stores (Stop-N-Go) since 1988, so by extension that means it became Corner Store in the mid-2000s and Circle K in the very late 2010s, and had been Diamond Shamrock with Stop-N-Go, becoming Valero at the same time it became Corner Store. It's POSSIBLE that since it was owned by National Convenience Stores only since 1988, it's possible that it was originally 7-Eleven before they sold their local stores to them in 1987, but I don't have a way of telling that for sure.


TANNER ROAD

Until around 2007 when the widening was completed, Gessner beyond this point was two way.

Lunch at Sam's / 10151 Alfred Lane
I've seen 5800 Gessner listed as an address here (including a 1990 phone book), but LaS is one of the few places in this stretch of Gessner (the Tanner/Hempstead stretch is a pretty lonely stretch with only older homes and a few industrial buildings). Interestingly, 5800 Gessner in HCAD is actually 5800 South Gessner (where a McDonald's is). I can't verify how long Lunch at Sam's has been open (the sign says 1954, but those are often inaccurate). The building was built in 1940 and converted to residential use according to the entry for 10151 Alfred Lane in HCAD but as of 1964, a schoolteacher by the name of Votie Anderson lived here with his children, so who knows how old the restaurant REALLY is. The plaster hamburger off of Gessner is interesting, though...


HEMPSTEAD ROAD

At Hempstead Road, the road is four laned again, even before the previous section was widened.

Railroad Crossing BBQ / 14715 Hempstead Road
It's not directly off of Gessner, but it is very visible coming from the north, which is when I first saw this in 2006. The building was built in 1957 and the earliest reference I can find is 1963 with Carl's Bar-B-Que (which later moved to Northwest Freeway) and by 1981 it was a restuarant called Buffalo Bill's (which did in fact serve real buffalo meat by 1987, a fact that they advertised), which remained into 1990. Sometime between 1991 and 1993 it became Railroad Crossing Restaurant. Maybe it actually was the same with the addition of railroad cars placed for dining. In any case, ownership changed and eventually the restaurant closed in 2018 due to owners retiring. There's a Yelp review here too.

Courtyard by Marriott / 6708 Gessner Road
Courtyard by Marriott Houston NW/290 Corridor was opened in 2015 and actually faces the Northwest Freeway.


NORTHWEST FREEWAY

We're finally here, the Northwest Freeway! From here, Gessner Road terminates just past West Road, picks up past Fallbrook as North Gessner, and ends at Willowbrook Mall.
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